Malachi Ince may be an EMCS high school student now, but he could be well on his way to one day playing in the NFL.
He was one of three kids in B.C. selected to attend Football University’s (FBU) annual Top Gun training camp late last month, an elite invitation-only two-day program in Williamsburg, Virginia.
“It was a passing camp,” said the articulate 14 year old. “We did bag drills and stuff like that and they just wanted to see how you understood drills and reaction time.”
“They” refer to about 100 former NFL players and coaches as well as scouts that look for young North American talent to mold into future professionals. Malachi said it’s a “fast track for a college scholarship,” because invitees get paired up with the National Collegiate Scouting Association. That means potential exposure to 400 colleges.
“That’s what they emphasize, to get an education while playing football. That’s what they help you do.”
The youngster, who started his career in town with little league, received an invite to Top Gun while in Vancouver at FBU’s regular camp that is held in over 40 cities in Canada and the United States. Grades six to eleven students who get nominated to join participate in three days of intensive football training, and a handful of lucky kids who display exceptional skills get picked to move on.
“There’s a lot of guys from Sooke that actually went to the original FBU camp, I’m the only one with the Top Gun but not everyone makes it the first year,” he said.
Loree Ince, Malachi’s mother and personal fitness coach, said the program is great because of the academic aspect.
“They plan them young with this group. It’s really neat, because before, back in my day, (in) football you could be dumb as long as you played the game. Now, they want these young men to have an education and be rounded, good productive members of society.”
Malachi just finished his last season with the Sooke Peewee Seahawks and currently plays for the EMCS junior varsity team, which is a AA-level team. To be eligible for college football, though—he mentioned the University of Pittsburgh as a top choice because they also have a good history program which he wants to pursue—he needs to be playing AAA. That’s why he’s also playing for the Victoria Spartans community football league.
“As far as we know, and have been told, Spartans is AAA,” said Loree.
Whether a league is or isn’t is determined by the numbers of eligible players that meet a list of criteria like ages and grade levels, she said. If the Spartans aren’t AAA by the time Malachi gets to Grade 11 next year, they have to “make some big decisions” like enrolling him in a school with a bigger football program like Mount Doug, Belmont or Nanaimo.
“We have family (in Nanaimo), we’d all have to move—or he’d have to live with (his) aunt and uncle,” she said.
They are hopeful that won’t be the case, however, and Malachi can stay at Edward Milne and commute to Victoria for training and games. Loree, who is also a business owner and full-time foster parent, said people may not realize how much talent Sooke has.
“We’ve got all these different athletes that are actually going past the community level that are doing really good,” she said.
“There’s more football out there than meets the eye.”